For Continental, sustainable business management and the assumption of social responsibility are a matter of course, and have long been an integral part of Environmental Strategy 2020. This also includes the continual review of our own processes and looking for ways to optimize them. While in recent years the main focus in this respect has been on climate change mitigation and energy efficiency, additional efforts will now be made in the area of waste management
As a result, in mid-2017, a small, interdisciplinary project team was tasked with finding opportunities for improving waste management with the particular goal of reducing plastic waste within the company. To this end, two pioneering initiatives were launched in February.
First initiative: plastic-free cafeterias
Reusable dishes and silverware are far from being the standard in all cafeterias. Even Continental cafeterias still use disposable plastic dishes far too often. This will now change, gradually. The goal of this initiative is in particular to raise general awareness of the issues among employees.
First, binding worldwide standards will be introduced for all new cafeterias. And second, older cafeterias will be modernized in such a way that disposable dishes can be eliminated in the future.
Since the beginning of this year, the use of reusable dishes and silverware has also been included as one of the criteria for awarding the internal "Green Plant Label," an environmental certification for locations.
All CEP (Central Electronic Plants) plants and Automotive plants that currently still use disposable dishes and cutlery will gradually switch to reusable dishes by the second quarter of 2019. In 20 CEP plants, the cafeterias will be plastic-free this year.
Second initiative: optimize waste management in production
In production as well, large quantities of plastic waste are generated every day as part of the overall waste volume. Depending on the location and the country, this waste, including the plastic, becomes part of an appropriate recycling process. Recycling rates at Continental plants are therefore currently between 15 and 100 percent. This is a very broad range that, above all, shows that there is still a lot more potential when it comes to the resource-friendly handling of materials and resources in waste management. The goal is to collect as much plastic waste as possible and ensure that it is recycled. By 2020, the recycling rate corporate-wide should be 90 percent.
These newly developed measures not only have ecological advantages, but economic advantages as well. For example, a lack of recycling in production leads to negligence in the disposal of resources. The reuse of these materials means savings for the locations.
The potential analysis phase has begun at ten pilot sites in Germany, North America, China, the Czech Republic and South Africa. One of the pilot sites in Bebra, Germany, has already demonstrated that improvement actions can not only be successfully implemented, but that production costs can also be reduced.